After a season where he could do no wrong, the Red Sox pitching coach has had a tough year.
Whenever a team struggles, or regresses, as much as the 2019 Boston Red Sox have, fans and analysts alike expect heads to begin to roll. Typically, the blame is shouldered by the manager, but in Alex Cora‘s case, a firing might be a little preemptive. Dana LeVangie, on the other hand, is a logical candidate to see his seat get warm due to the immense statistical regression of the pitching staff.
At a quick glance, the merit for a firing is present. Chris Sale and Rick Porcello have put together the worst statistical seasons of their respective careers, while David Price is having his worst season in a Red Sox uniform. Midseason addition, Andrew Cashner, has seen his ERA nearly double since being traded to Boston as he posted a 3.83 ERA in Baltimore and a 7.53 ERA with the Sox.
Statistically, the Red Sox pitchers have been bad and are arguably a primary reason why the defending World Series champions will have to make a late push to merely make the postseason. As a pitching staff, the Sox rank 19th in FIP, 10th in xFIP, 21st in ERA, 16th in QS, 13th in WAR, and they’ve walked the 5th most batters in all of baseball. Regression is common, but LeVangie’s pitching staff has fallen off of a cliff.
As if the statistics weren’t bad enough, Christian Vazquez had one of the more head scratching responses to a question regarding the opposition’s recognition of pitching strategy.
Thought this was telling from postgame— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) August 7, 2019
Q: Why have hitters been able to get to pitches up in the zone against you guys?
Christian Vazquez: I think everybody knows that we pitch up. They make adjustments. They have reports and they look for it.
If every team in baseball knows the Boston Red Sox pitching staff’s tendencies, then make an adjustment – plain and simple. In this case, there are plenty at fault as pitchers have the ability to change a plan of attack, but the answer alone suggests that the strategy hasn’t changed. If that is truly the situation, then Dana LeVangie is to blame and needs to shift the gameplan.
There’s still time for Boston’s staff to get things figured out; however it’s running out – quickly. If the Red Sox are able to put everything together and return to the postseason, LeVangie and Cora should have plenty of job security. As of now, that’s a long-shot and both should be at least a little concerned about their long term outlook in Boston, but especially their pitching coach.
Dana LeVangie needs to get the pitching staff moving in the right direction, and fast, or he may be looking for a new job this offseason.